Copyright © 1997 Henrietta W. Hay
Confessions of a Mystery Fan
October 3, 1997
I have a lot of friends who do not know I exist. Actually, they don't
exist either. But we mystery readers know them well -- friends like
Carlotta Carlyle, Anna Pigeon, Kay Scarpetta, Goldy Bear, V. I.
Warshawski, and Kinsey Milhone.
I'm lifelong mystery fan, starting with Sherlock Holmes. Mysteries
are relaxing. You know the story pattern and basically how it is going
to end, but there's lots of variety and entertainment on the way there.
I know I will get yelled at for discrimination, but I prefer mysteries
written by women. The best women writers take care to build female
characters of depth, women who are warm, funny and sexy, along with
being smart and competent and often pretty feisty. And they understand
how women think and what they think about. Men have trouble creating
independent women characters who solve the mystery and then, often, walk
into the sunset alone.
Lupe Solano is a new mystery friend whom I met this year. She is the
brain child of Carolina Garcia-Aguilera who introduces her in "Bloody
Waters." Lupe is a member of a wealthy Cuban-American family which has
fled from Castro Cuba to Miami. She drives a Mercedes, carries a
Beretta in her Chanel purse, and is a smart, funny, family oriented PI
who has opened her own office with financial help from Papi. Her search
for the biological mother of an illegally adopted Cuban infant takes her
into Cuba -- illegally, of course -- and safely out again. She is a
great addition to my list of friends.
Lilly Bennett is one of my friends. She is a cross between the society
matron her mother wants her to be, and a liberated, free- wheeling
western woman. Lilly
lives on her family ranch out of Roundup, Wyoming, a spread that
covers thousands of acres. As she puts it, "...since the 1850's my
family's successfully raised two black crops in the Circle B Ranch --
angus and oil -- which have staked us well. She commutes in the family
helicopter. In her third mystery, "Tramp," Denver author Marne Davis
Kellog divides Lilly's time between chasing the bad guys and chasing
Richard Jerome, an ex-Morgan banker, now opera impresario. She is one
of my favorites, but I did get annoyed at her on page 36. A more
liberated woman than Lilly is hard to imagine, but she took a nasty
extraneous swipe at feminists and then moved right back into being one.
Ah well, nobody's perfect.
Aklak is certainly not a friend, but is an interesting character.
"From the bottom of his front paw...to the highest point of his
shoulder, he stood five feet six inches and from his nose to the tip of
his tail, just over nine feet...his coat was a beautiful warm brown,
with pale-tipped guard hairs that gave him the grizzled look for which
he was named." Sue Henry has another Alaska adventure, "Sleeping
Lady." Alaska State Trooper Alex Jensen does most of the work in
solving this mystery, but the main character is really Aklak. Henry's
knowledge of and fascination with the animals of Alaska makes her books
different from any others. Those wonderful sled dogs in "Murder on the
Iditerod Trail" and Aklak stay in my memory long after the plot is
forgotten. I wouldn't want to meet the great brown bear face to face,
but I do respect him.
Sometimes I read a mystery simply because the author came up with a
wonderful title. Such a one is "Murder on a Bad Hair Day," by Anne
George. The two protagonists are much closer to my age than most
murder solvers. Practical and petite ex-schoolteacher Patricia Ann,
and six foot 250 pound outrageous Mary Alice are sisters in their
mid-sixties and have never agreed on anything yet. But they did manage
to get together and nail the villain. Bad guys should not mess around
with middle-aged sisters.
These women and so many more are good friends of mine. My list of
women mystry writers is way over 100 now and more are coming along every
day. Right now I have Em Hansen waiting for me in Santa Rosa,
California, and Anna Pigeon starting a new adventure on Cumberland
Island in Georgia.
Sorry, can't answer the phone right now. I'm visiting with Kat Colorado
in Las Vegas.